Ready to start your online business? Find out the 20 things to do to make your online business a success.
Some people will sell you the idea of working from your laptop on a beach. Others will tell you that you can make millions working only a few hours a week. Hmm… I don’t think so! Not one bit.
Starting an online business takes dedication and work. And the reality is that failure happens to some. According to the US Small Business Administration 2016 report, about 1 in 5 small businesses will fail within their first year. But don’t let that deter you.
To be part of the 4 in 5 small business owners that succeed, you need to establish solid foundations. This will help put all the best chances of success on your side.
Here are the top 20 things to do to help make your new online business successful.
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1. Have a Deep Understanding of Your Customers
It's crucial to know and understand who you serve.
- Who is your ideal customer target?
- What problems do your customers face?
- How do they feel about those problems?
- What words do they use to describe them?
- Are these important enough that they need to be solved (i.e. is there a market demand)?
- How does your business help resolve them?
- What is the outcome for your customers?
- Does your business provide a transformation for your customers?
Pro tip: To help you gain a crystal clear understanding of your customers’ problems and emotions, read this post on how to read your customers’ minds - without being creepy, I promise!
2. Focus on the Big Picture
There’s a saying that 20% of what you do in your business will yield 80% of your results. There's no point focusing on things that don’t provide results or make sense strategically.
Have you ever debated on trivial things? I know I do! I changed my mind I don't know how many times on my brand color palette. Having learned about color psychology, I knew it was going to be important for my branding strategy. But did I really need to spend all this time debating on which shade of blue? Nope! No one is perfect...
Pro tip: Think about the activities you currently do that result in growing your email list and sales or are strategic for your long-term growth. What are they? Can you do more of that? On the other hand, are there activities that produce little to no return? Could you stop or reduce them? Be cut-throat when it comes to deciding what to spend your time on.
3. Adopt a Growth Mindset
Failing entrepreneurs have a scarcity mindset, think they’ll not be able to achieve their goals, believe they’re not good enough, think only other people can achieve success or are afraid to invest in their business.
Guess what? If that’s what they think, that’s what will happen!
Pro tip: Be confident in your abilities to succeed and learn strategies for developing a growth mindset.
4. Focus on Conversions
While having a nice looking website is important, it needs, more importantly, to provide a good customer experience for conversions.
Plain and simple, the financial success of an online business is based on conversion: audience -> leads -> paid customers. (There are several more stages of conversion than that, but that’s a sales funnel at its simplest form).
Whether it’s for selling services, digital products or courses, conversion is at the core of success. An email list plays a crucial part in this process.
Pro tip: Read my best tips on how to grow your email list.
5. Pay Attention to Grammar and Copywriting
Have you ever landed on a blog that was ridden with grammar mistakes and poorly written? I don’t know about you, but I exit those sites in a split second. Not only will I never visit these sites again, but it also negatively impacts my perception of the quality of content and products of this site.
Pro tip: I use Grammarly. It catches more mistakes than I care to admit: typos, punctuations, verb tenses, repeated words and more. Oops! Want people to take read your blog and take your expertise seriously? Pay attention to your copy!
6. Be Dedicated and Work Smart
Some entrepreneurs that fail think they can spend only a few hours a week on their business and rake in the millions. Hmm... seriously?! It might be true for some after several years in business, but that's rarely the truth when it comes to starting a new business.
Pro tip: Simply, do not be afraid of putting in the hours when launching and growing your biz. Become a productivity machine so you can increase your output and focus on what matters the most for your business growth. Follow this Pinterest board for best tips on Productivity + Time Management.
7. Adopt a Long-Term View
While a decision might make sense in the short term, what about the potential impacts in a few months or years? For example, are the subject of your current blog posts aligned with future products or services you're planning on selling? Are you forming business relationships that will make sense a year from now? When making business decisions, consider both short- and long-term impacts. Having a clear vision and mission will help you with that.
Pro tip: To help you plan your vision, mission and plan of action, get your No-Fluff Marketing Planner.
8. Be You, Be Different
Being you will help you stand out in a sea of online sameness. While looking up to leaders in your industry can help provide you with inspiration, copying them will result in lowering your brand recognition.
Pro tip: To be heard and seen, be YOU. Consider being unique in your voice, branding, products, opinions, posts, etc. Make sure that your message matches with who you want to attract to your tribe. Then, build meaningful and authentic relationships with them.
9. Focus on Fans, not Followers
While social media helps grow a business, a follower does not equate a lead. Especially, if one has bought fake followers. Please don't do that!
Unless they drive quality traffic to your site and convert into leads, followers don’t mean much.
Pro tip: Focus on growing an organic following of raving fans. Find where your audience hangs out and engage with them. Provide value again and again, and people will follow you on social media.
10. Control Costs
Some will spend thousands of dollars on a website, professional pictures, designer, and more - without first having made a buck from their business. It shocks me whenever I hear of this. While I absolutely believe in the fantastic value of a professional website designer, branding specialist, and photographer, these are better suited once the business generates enough revenue to cover the expense.
Pro tip: When starting an online business, focus on products & services that provide you value at a reasonable cost. Do this until you generate enough income to cover your expenses, and then upgrade.
11. Selectively Invest in Your Business
While some entrepreneurs spend too much, the other extreme is those that do not invest a cent in their business. I certainly do not advocate to carelessly waste your hard-earned dollars, but a minimum of investment is required.
Pro tip: At the bare minimum, you’ll need:
- a website (either self-hosted with Wordpress or a Squarespace site)
- an email service provider (like ConvertKit)
- a scheduler to drive Pinterest traffic with consistency (like Tailwind)
You can also consult my full list of resources, including several free ones.
12. Ban Shiny Object Syndrome
Throwing spaghetti at the wall hoping one sticks won't do much to build a solid business. Adopting a focused strategy will help put the chances of success on your side.
Pro tip: Develop a strategic plan and a focused path of action. This article on How to Promote Your Online Business Like a Boss will help you achieve this.
13. Focus on Growing Quality Traffic (not just page views)
While hundreds of thousands of monthly page views are not required to run a successful online business, some page views are still needed. But what is more important is to attract people that are interested in your offerings. It's about quality over quantity.
Pro tip: My free 5-day course gives you best tips to grow quality traffic.
14. Build Meaningful Relationships
In an online world, it can become easy to forget there are humans behind mobiles, sales funnels and page views. Real human beings, with emotions and a longing for connection.
Whether one markets products and services face-to-face or online, it still involves human beings. Building authentic relationships with customers, peers, and other online business owners will help you stand out online.
Pro tip: The beauty of being a small business owner is that you get to interact with your customers directly and build one-on-one relationships. Humans have emotions, and this is something crucial to the success of your business. Don’t believe me? That’s okay. I hope this article will help change your mind.
15. Aim for Progression, Not Perfection
There's no point to wait for a site to be perfect before launching it. How does someone know what will work unless it is launched and tested? Perfection can lead to analysis paralysis.
Make a decision and go with it. We all make mistakes. I know I do! When I launched my site, I spend a lot of time writing an introductory blog post. Why on earth did I do that? I have no idea… No one reads it, and it’s awkward to promote it, so I don’t. I haven’t removed this post because I keep it as a reminder that it’s okay to make mistakes.
Pro tip: Just do it! The beauty of the Internet is that you can always edit and tweak as needed.
16. Value Your Worth
Some entrepreneurs will drastically underprice their services and digital courses in the hope that it will increase the number of sales. After spending years and years in marketing, I can assure you that this strategy results in customers devaluing perceived value. Customers will think that because it is so cheap, it must not be that good and so they won’t buy.
Pro tip: Consumer psychology has shown over and over again that high quality is associated with higher prices. So if your service or online course does indeed offer high-quality, price it accordingly and create a killer sales page that converts!
17. Be Persistent
It takes an enormous amount of drive to succeed. Entrepreneurs that declare failure after only a few months need to keep trying! Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Pro tip: Stay focused on your goal and focus on working on what matters the most to grow your business. Get clear on why you're building your business. Is it to get more freedom? Is it to afford a lifestyle you love? What is your why? When times get tough, go back to your why and keep going. You can do it!
While no one should adopt a sleazy car salesman approach, I believe the willingness to self-promote is crucial. It can be uncomfortable to do, but focusing on being you and establishing meaningful relationships will help.
Pro tip: Do not be afraid to tastefully promote your offerings. Be helpful to your audience, build meaningful relationships with peers and readers, and the sales will come.
19. Track Results
It’s important to understand what works and what doesn’t in your business so that improvements can be made.
- Which social medium drives you the most traffic?
- What percentage of your Instagram followers become email subscribers?
- Which posts drive you the most traffic? What is the email conversion rate for these?
- How does your traffic from Pinterest differ from Facebook? Do they convert into sales better or worst?
These are a few examples of questions one needs to look into to run a successful business.
Pro tip: Learn how to use Google Analytics pronto! Google offers free online courses, so no excuses.
20. Remember to do these things!
Don't forget these tips! Pin this post so you can refer to it later.
How to Start a Successful Online Business
In this article, I’ve shown you 20 things to do to start a successful online business.
To summarize the elements to starting and growing an online business that succeeds:
- Adopt a Growth Mindset: consult my curated Pinterest board on the subject.
- Know Your Audience: read my article on How to Read Your Customers' Minds.
- Develop a Strategic Plan of Action: download your free No-Fluff Marketing Planner.
- Grow your Traffic: get your free 5-day course.
- Build Your List: read my best tips to grow your email list.
- Spend Wisely: invest in resources and tools that grow your business.
Got any questions for me? Let me know in the comments. I personally reply to all comments!
After working as a professional marketer for some of the world's largest corporations for 14 years, I now focus on helping online business owners promote their biz, increase traffic and grow email list. I strive to provide you with actionable, step-by-step tips & resources for your business success. Follow me on Pinterest.
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